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Friday, February 7, 2014

Q&A with Jeremy Petersen, Formerly of OPB

Posted by A.L. Adams on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 8:57 AM

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It was announced this week that longtime Oregon Public Broadcasting contributor Jeremy Petersen was laid off from his job at OPB, where he was host of In House and one of the developers of OPBmusic. (Local Cut, WW's music blog, posted the news earlier this week.) In House was OPB's flagship local music program, but in 2012 it was taken off the radio waves to run in an online format, along with other programming changes that reduced the broadcast music programming on OPB's primary radio wave to virtually nil. We spoke with Petersen about the changes.

MERCURY: How long were you with OPB, and what title did you hold there? What shows or forums did you create and/or contribute to?

JEREMY PETERSEN: I had been with OPB since June of 2007, originally hired to help develop and launch OPBmusic, and to host its iteration on OPB radio Saturday and Sunday nights. I also interviewed artists for many of our sessions, contributed to and edited the blog, and helped grow and maintain a music library that started more or less from scratch.

What got you into your role at OPB in the first place?

It was a posted position, forwarded to me by a friend who thought it sounded ideal for me.

How sudden was this change, and how are you feeling about it?

It came from out of nowhere, really, and for me it leaves a lot unresolved in terms of work that was started and in terms of things I hoped to be able to do there. It was a great opportunity and I'm proud of what was accomplished while I was there. I also wish we could have done more, as one does. It's disappointing, but I have to say the support I've felt from people over the past day or so has certainly made it easier to take. I'm optimistic about what's to come.

Who's going to be in charge of OPB's musical efforts now?

David Christensen is the PD [program director]. I assume that will be the case.

How would you define the OPBmusic audience?

Obviously, they're tasteful! They're also knowledgeable and passionate and are interested in more than what's obvious—even as so-called indie goes. Above all, I think they're more interested than most in being active participants with the music they choose to listen to.

What are some of your fondest memories of good times with particular bands and musicians?

Most of those have come from sessions we've recorded, and I feel like I have a treasure trove to choose from. A lot of my favorite memories are of things that happened off the mic. Talking Raymond Carver with Willy Vlautin long after the instruments had been packed away stands out. Courtney Taylor-Taylor schooled me on wine. We somehow talked Thao into starring in a promo video that featured her in a saltine cracker eating contest. My favorite interview ever may have been Charles Bradley in front of an in-studio audience. He's a pure soul who specializes in pure soul, and that's what came through as he talked about his life and what had led him to where he is now.

So many others, too: attempting to reign in the verbose is always a challenge. Eventually, I think I just sat back and enjoyed Billy Bragg and Sharon Jones. It was also a huge pleasure to champion young up and coming bands we believed in, and to be able to feel like you were giving them a boost and introducing them to people who might not have come across them otherwise. The likes of Aan, Genders, and Houndstooth just in the past year, and prior to that bands like Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, Typhoon, Radiation City, Wild Ones, And And And, Loch Lomond, Weinland, and so many others.

Blitzen Trapper was always fun because Eric Earley seemed to take a certain delight in messing with me during the interviews. The Decemberists live to the whole world was a big one. Posing for a few shots with Yo La Tengo in the park next door last spring was pretty surreal.

What do you want to do next, both in the short/interim term and in the career sense?

Right now [snow day] we're gonna huddle and I'm going to introduce my daughters to The Wizard of Oz.

I want to continue on with this thing I've been doing in whatever way I can. At this point, I'm not sure what that looks like, but ideally it's something that allows me to stay in the musical world and pay the bills. But then, who doesn't want that?! It's nice to have options, though, and they're popping up.

Thanks, Jeremy.

Hey, if my end of this interview feels vanilla and didactic, and you want me to redo it using only Elvis Costello song titles, I will.

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